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19-Feb 2016

Quick Guide: Scope And Possibility Of Breast Reconstructive Surgery

To go through the horrors of battling breast cancer is an ordeal in itself and to top that if it involves removal of one or both breasts it invokes unspeakable torment in a woman's heart threatening to shatter her to the point of no return, for it is rhetorical to even wonder the importance of breasts for a woman and how indispensable and innate a part of her body and image they are.

To want to get rid of the cancer as quickly as possible would be the top priority and it is instinctive for the patient and her family to want to tackle the treatment related procedures first. But once that is done and she is free of the cancer, the magnitude of the trauma of living without any breasts sets in. It is deeply unsettling for the patient, affecting her psychologically as well as emotionally. And in order to lead a normal life and feel no different from anybody around her, she would want to somehow get them back. A wish, that is sadly not granted to many as they are unacquainted with the options available to them after a mastectomy or feel that it is beyond their reach because of insufficient awareness and counselling. Some also have the misconception that a new breast can lead to the recurrence of the cancer or are not guided in the right direction at the time of surgery and are rendered clueless about whom to approach for a reconstruction.

To clear the air around it, let us begin by answering these questions first.
One, a reconstructed breast does not render one susceptible to cancer again as the breast gland has already been removed, and all that is there now posing as a breast is new tissue. So the cancer cannot strike back there. And two, a reconstructive surgery is the job of a Plastic-Reconstructive surgeon and not an oncologist. In order to craft totally natural looking and symmetric breasts, the surgeon needs to specialize in breast surgery. Breast reconstruction can be immediately performed after the mastectomy in the same surgical procedure so that the patient does not have to go through the pain of living with amputated breasts, but in case it hasn't been done simultaneously, one can go for a secondary reconstruction i.e. the reconstructive surgery can be deferred to a later date.

Reconstruction is of four types. A simple reconstruction involves putting in a silicone implant but it sometimes holds the threat of tearing the skin. This can be overcome by performing an implant plus tissue reconstruction where a muscle flap is used along with an implant. The third type is an autologous tissue reconstruction. This involves taking out tissue mostly from the abdomen area and transferring it to the breast as a flap. It is advantageous in the sense that no foreign material is inserted in the body. Moreover it gives a shapely contour to the abdomen. The fourth type of reconstructive surgery is called fat grafting where undesired fat from different parts of the body is extracted through liposuction and used for sculpting new breasts. Any particular combination of these four techniques can be used depending on the requirements and individual needs of the patient.

A breast reconstruction surgery, needless to say can have life altering implications for those who are rendered without this essential body organ, who are otherwise facing a lifetime ahead with a distorted body and quiet possibly self-image and worth, day in and day out living with the constant reminder of their illness, the agonizing experience and its vestiges.
So, if you know any woman who had to go through cancer and its aftermaths and can benefit from a breast reconstruction surgery, inform her about it, for you will be helping her get her life back